It’s that time of year when we grasp every little bit of British sunshine to dust off the barbecue, have some friends over and enjoy some good food, good drinks and good company. Unfortunately though, BBQ season can be a little bit damaging to the waistline with the combination of alcohol, fatty meats, desserts and nibbles… but does it have to be this way? Well, we don’t think so and we have outlined a few simple ‘swaps’ to help keep your calorie intake down and your waistline under control.
First and foremost, with a little bit of thought, we can save a lot of calories in terms of our meat sources at a BBQ. For example, 2 pork sausages can easily add up to 250kcal; by simply swapping to leaner meat sausages (chicken, lean beef, venison and even kangaroo) you can easily save around 120 calories.
A BBQ wouldn’t be complete without a good burger, but a shop bought 60g burger can set you back over 150kcal, and when having two of these with a slice of cheese, you’re looking at a total of 500kcal at a minimum. Instead why not make your own lean mince burgers, using our Active Seasonings™ range to customise your own bespoke burgers, binding with an egg and a few bread crumbs and keep the calorie cost right down, add some low-fat cheese (or cut your own macro friendly slices) and you could be looking at another 200kcal ‘saving’.
What would a burger be without a bun? An average burger bun can be up to 150kcals, so two of these is another 300kcal! There are, however, other lower calorie bun options if you look carefully for around 100kcal… or just double up your burger and save yourself another 100 or so calories.
Calories can also be saved elsewhere on the meat front, swapping chicken legs for breasts and just generally thinking about choosing leaner cuts of meat can reduce calorie intake by hundreds of calories. To spice things up a bit, think about using lean exotic meats; this will add a bit of variety to the BBQ and won’t make it feel like you are having to sacrifice on the meat front, instead use it as an opportunity to experiment!
Vegetarian burgers and sausages are often seen as a healthier alternative to meat, however be aware that veggie burgers and sausages do fluctuate wildly in calories, with many being as high in calories as the meat versions, so always think about shopping around and looking for less calorific versions… or if you’re brave enough, try to make your own!
When it comes to the nibbles, most people have bowls of crisps dotted around. Although these can be avoided, why not instead put out bowls of ‘skinny’ popcorn for a bit of a change and to help keep the calorie intake down! Other ways to keep calorie intake under control is to make your own coleslaw, using light mayonnaise or to look for lighter options that many supermarkets now provide. Using reduced sugar ketchup and other sauces can all add up and keep any unwanted damage to a minimum, too!
One of the quickest ways to rack up the calories is through beer and wine, a small bottle of beer (330ml) can have up to 130kcal! But if you do fancy a drink then go for spirits and diet drinks, a single 25ml measure of spirit and low calorie mixer could reduce your calorie intake if you have three drinks by over 200kcal compared to beer.
On a hot summers day, everyone loves ice cream… but a medium-sized serving of 100g could be over 200kcal! Why not try switching to a sorbet which provides the chills but with around 80kcal less per 100g serving, and if you want to use extra toppings, our calorie-free syrups will do the job! If you really want to reduce calorie intake you can make your own desserts using Greek or natural yoghurt flavoured with our Liquiflav™ drops, this works great on its own or as a topping on sugar-free jelly or add a dollop of your favourite nut butter to add some crunch and you have a great tasting and low-calorie desert!
Following these tips could easily save an average person around a 1000kcal per BBQ!
Finally, although this still might be a lot of calories, even if using the leaner options (assuming you could eat a couple of burgers, sausages, chicken, sides, nibbles a couple of drinks and dessert), we can also think about using dietary strategies such as calorie-cycling leading up to a BBQ (or other ‘high calorie’ events) to help limit any unwanted weight gain and keep you on track to maintain that summer body all year around.
To do this is quite simple, if our maintenance calories were around 2000kcal, we can put ourselves a little lower for 6 days leading up to our BBQ, eating at say 200kcal below maintenance, which is not exactly a huge amount of daily calorie reduction! This then gives us an extra 1200kcal to play with for our BBQ and it will still be within our weekly maintenance allowances.
Remember, weight loss or maintenance is not going to be undone with one day eating off plan, it’s weekly averages that matter, so long as we are careful to factor those higher days in and don’t go to extremes, then we can relax, enjoy our food and still reach our goals.